There has been human habitation in Nova Scotia for approximately 11,000 years, beginning with the Mi'kmaq, a native population. First European contact with the Mi'kmaq and Nova Scotia was established in 1605, when Port Royal, the capital of the new territory of Acadia, was established there by the French. The Acadians and Mi'kmaq remained largely in control of the region for the next hundred years, despite repeated attempts by the British to besiege them and tumultuous political disputes and wars. In 1710, however, the Conquest of Acadia took place, resulting in the creation of the colony of Nova Scotia and the renaming of Port Royal to Annapolis Royal. In 1749 the newly established city of Halifax took the place of Annapolis Royal as capital of Nova Scotia. In 1755 the expulsion of the Acadians began, forcing most of the Acadian population from the region entirely. By 1763, much of what remained of the Acadians' holdings in the region, including what would become Prince Edward Island, then called St. John's Island, and New Brunswick, were absorbed into the colony of Nova Scotia. In 1769 St John's Island became an independent colony. In 1784 New Brunswick became an independent colony. During the war of 1812, Nova Scotia was mainly involved in privateering. In 1848 Nova Scotia achieved responsible government, becoming the first British North American Colony to do so. In 1867 Nova Scotia joined with the Province of Canada (now Ontario and Quebec) and New Brunswick to form the Dominion of Canada. During this time, and for the remainder of the 19th and 20th centuries Nova Scotia maintained a reputation for excellence in ship building and shipping. During the First World War Nova Scotia was notable as a port and as a shipment hub for supplies. On December 6th, 1917 the capital city, Halifax, was rocked by an explosion caused by the collision of a French and Norwegian ship in the harbour. The Halifax Explosion resulted in almost 2,000 deaths, 10,000 injuries and immense destruction to the city. It remains the worlds largest accidental man-made explosion.
Nova Scotia is one of three Maritime Provinces in Canada, located mainly on a peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. Its only land border is with New Brunswick to the West. The largest island belonging to the province is Cape Breton Island, which is located to the northeast of the peninsula. It is the second-smallest province in all of Canada, covering an area of just over 55,000 square kilometres. No point in Nova Scotia is further than 67 kilometres away from the ocean. The capital of Nova Scotia is Halifax, which is located on the southern coast near the middle of the island, and is also the largest city.
There are just over 946,000 people in Nova Scotia, make it the second most densely populated province in the country, though the seventh most populous. A small majority of the population reports their ethnic origin as Canadian, about 47.4%. Other large populations include Scottish, English, Irish, French, Aboriginal and German. There are also small populations of Dutch, African Canadian, Italian, and Acadian origin. Christianity is the dominant religion, with 37% of the population identifying themselves as Roman Catholic, and a further 46% identifying themselves as some other denomination of Christianity. There are also small populations of other religions, including Muslims, Jews and Buddhists. 11.6% of the population claims no religion.
A majority of the population speaks English, with over 92% of the population claiming it as their mother tongue. Native French speakers make up a further 4% of the population. There are a number of other languages identified as a mother tongue by residents, none of which exceed 0.5% of the total population.